Scientists have revealed how spending hours scrolling on our smartphones could be changing the shape of our skulls, in a BBC feature about how modern life is altering the human skeleton.
“I have been a clinician for 20 years, and only in the last decade, increasingly, I have been discovering that my patients have this growth on the skull,” health scientist David Shahar told the BBC.
The bony growth, also referred to as an external occipital protuberance, sometimes grows so large that it can be felt by pressing the base of the skull.
According to the BBC report, it is possible that it is caused by bad posture, and the bending of the neck to look at smartphones and tablets.
However, scientists from the University of The Sunshine Coast in Australia remain unable to conclusively explain how the growths occur.
The human head is heavy, typically weighing around 10 pounds. When tilted forward, strain is placed on the neck and puts pressure on the point between the skull and neck muscles.
Scientists believe that the body might respond by creating new bone to distribute the weight of the head, the BBC reported.
The recent BBC feature explored a study from the Journal of Anatomy published in 2016, in which Shahar and one of his colleagues examined radiographs of 218 young people between the ages of 18 and 30.
The study found that 41 percent had a spike at least 0.2 inches in size.
A further 10 percent had enlarged spikes that measured at least 0.7 inches.
Enlarged spikes were more often seen in males than females. The largest example, 1.4 inches in size, belonged to a male.
A different Shahar study examined 1,200 people between the ages of 18 and 86.
It found the spikes were more common in younger people, supporting the hypothesis that bad posture could be the cause.
Specifically, the report found that people between 18 and 30 were significantly more likely to have these bumps.
The bumps don’t appear to be going anywhere, either. Shahar told the BBC, “Imagine if you have stalactites and stalagmites, if no one is bothering them, they will just keep growing.”
Shahar said these spikes usually don’t cause medical problems and improving one’s posture can relieve discomfort.
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